Home Arts & Entertainment Art Architect Scott Shall discusses the importance of failure

Architect Scott Shall discusses the importance of failure

About 40 people attended Shall's presentation "Pretty Ugly". Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez

By Robert Kennedy – Collegiate Staff

Students in attendance at the “Pretty Ugly” lecture Feb. 11, witnessed Scott Shall preaching the importance of not being afraid to fail over an over in order to succeed.

The chairman of Lawrence Technological University’s (LTU) architecture department, Shall, delivered lecture at Grand Rapids Community College in the Wisner-Botrall Applied Technology Center to students, staff and the public.

With at least 30 students and faculty in attendance, the lecture was hosted by David Dye, a GRCC professor of mechanical and architectural design. The lecture focused on learning from architecture’s ugly while also learning to appreciate its value.

Shall is founding director of the nonprofit International Design Clinic, which performs design work with communities in need around the world. Since it was founded in 2006, the IDC has completed more than a dozen projects on four continents, including: an urban tent for the homeless made of reclaimed water bottles, a school system based upon the vending architectures of Bolivia that is tailored to meet the needs of the street children of La Paz, and a $2 water filtration system.

Shall jokingly told the crowd that he has had students go on to work for famous people such as Eminem, and he himself has worked for Dolly Parton.

The lecture began with Shall showing architectural slides on the overhead projector and explaining his teaching philosophy. “The most prudent goal of the learner is not to succeed timidly but to fail heroically,” and “our call as educators is to promote an atmosphere where students can fail heroically.”

Shall explained that he hopes to “provide a framework for learning that encourages the thoughtful production of the nonsensical, unanticipated, and at times the ugly.”

LTU’s architecture program uses labs as a “place where a student can take a huge risk, fail miserably and get an A. A place where students can get messy,” Shall said. Each four-credit studio now requires two lab credits.

“I want the students to feel like they have the freedom to babble,” Shall said. “The freedom to produce 11 things that were nonsense for that one thing that actually matters.”

The lecture segued into Dye announcing that GRCC’s pre architecture associates degree now transfers to LTU as part of their masters of architecture program. This is a plan that they have been working on since 2010.

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